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Get the Facts

There are a number of equine assisted program certifications available today and so many people doing great work!  We want you to choose the certification that is the best fit for YOUR clients and the type of programs YOU want to run.  We encourage you to do your research, be sure to speak to graduates of the programs you are considering and get all the facts so you can make an informed decision. Click here for a checklist of things to consider when choosing an EAL Certification Program. This is an exciting time and we wish you all the best as you navigate the EAL landscape and start your own EAL journey!

We have many graduates who do not own their own farm and some who don’t own horses!  In these cases, they have partnered with a facility to lease the space and horses to run programs.  A local riding school may welcome the opportunity to add EAL programs to their facility or have their retired lesson horses find a new career.  We would be happy to put you in touch with our graduates who are operating their businesses under this model.

This EAL Certification provides a foundational curriculum that can be used to create programs for a wide variety of audiences.  The possibilities are endless!   It is an Equine Assisted Learning program designed and proven to teach critical life skills.  You do not need to be a therapist to run EAL programs, but this program is also an exceptional foundation for for those that are licensed mental health professionals wishing to run professional, credible therapy programs.

An indoor arena isn’t a requirement for running EAL programs.  Many of our graduates run their programs outdoors in paddock areas or riding rings.  Depending on the clients you choose to work with and your climate, weather may or may not be a consideration.

We do offer flexible payment options to help you pay for your course.  However, final payment is required before graduation and for very good reason.  We are committed to your success and want you to be able complete the course and hit the ground running.  Starting a business requires focus, determination and frankly some start-up funding.  We don’t want you looking backward at debt owed, we want you looking forward building your business and growing your EAL income and we are committed to helping you do that.  Flexible options include:   including paying instalments leading up the course or allowing the course to be taken in smaller chunks with a pay as you go model.  For example, spreading your training throughout our year of scheduled course dates.  Give us a call and we can help you work out a plan that will work best for you, your budget and your schedule!

We are strong advocates for experiential learning as that is the key learning advantage provided by equine assisted learning programs.  That said, there are components to our EAL Certification Program that are purely classroom based and we are now providing opportunities to take that portion of the course online.  The online program is delivered live in an interactive format to ensure a top quality education.  The online program is then followed by a 3 day practicum program to provide the hands on experience required to complete the Certification and be deemed a Certified EAL Facilitator.  Only upon completion of the online and practicum components will participants achieve certification and be empowered to run their own programs.  We consider the practicum component as essential training to ensure programs are run in accordance to our standards of practice and are safe and effective.  This is critical to maintaining the integrity of our programs and the Equine Assisted Learning Industry in general.

We now offer an Assistant EAL Program for those that will be working with one of our Certified EAL facilitators.  This training ensures that assistants are skilled in the areas of program set up, facilitation and wrap up and can effectively support the lead EAL Facilitator in delivering safe and effective programs.  This is a great alternative to full certification at a reduced investment.  For those that later decide they would like to complete the full certification, $1000 of the cost of the program would be applied to your Certified EAL Facilitator course.  Note:  EAL Assistants must be referred/endorsed by a Cartier/Dreamwinds Certified EAL Facilitator.

We have had several graduates receive funding for their course tuition. Most notably are the following:

  • Canada Ontario Job Grants – Employee training grant for those employed by a riding facility or not-for-profit that wants to start and EAL program.  Employee needs to be sponsored by their employer.  Dreamwinds EAL Certification & Cartier Farms have been approved.
  • Veterans Affairs – Military personnel who are leaving the military to pursue a new career path and are looking to EAL.  Dreamwinds EAL Certification has been approved.
  • Trillium Grant – Not-for-profit organizations that seek funding for new programming have been approved to send employees or volunteers for EAL Certification at Dreamwinds. 

Be sure to check into your local business centre for small business support and grant opportunities.  Additional links worth exploring include:

The Building Block Program™ is a proven Equine Assisted Learning Curriculum of objective-based exercises.  The Cartier partnership spent 10 years researching the lasting benefits of EAL and hundreds of hours developing a user-friendly, flexible, teachable curriculum that others could learn and implement at a facility of their own.  Each exercise builds on the skills of the last and is carefully designed to deliver on specific learning objectives through interactive group engagement with horses. 

There have been 2 independent studies conducted to validate the effectiveness of the Building Block Program™.  The first was done with Cartier Equine Centre Partnership in 2013 with the Universities of Regina, Saskatchewan and Calgary. Cartier Farms EAL Centre has continued to pursue 3rd party validation to inform program improvements and development.  A more recent study in 2016 by McMaster and the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan showed that EAL outcomes supported the 4 stated objectives including building relationships, learning about self, positive self-concept and client life skill development.

Cartier Farms EAL Centre is in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and is owned and run by Gayle Cartier, Daryl Cartier with Janice Boucher and Roger Boucher.  Formerly known as the Cartier Equine Centre, these are 4 of the original CEC partners and the founders of the Building Block Curriculum.  Gayle & Janice are the true masters of EAL and have been running programs since 2000.  They created the Building Block Programtm with the CEC partnership to help others learn how to run this valuable program and bring it to their own community.  In 2013 the CEC Partnership, which was originally made up of 6 partners, parted ways and Cartier Farms continued to offer EAL Programs and to grow and improve the EAL Facilitator Certification Program.  When it came time to expand, they chose Dreamwinds EAL Centre to be their Certified Satellite Facility in Ontario and certified Tracey Evans as a Master Instructor to make the program accessible to those in Eastern Canada.  They are at the forefront of program development, continuing to evolve the curriculum and improve the certification course. 

There is no EAL horse mould to speak of, they could be of any breed and a wide range of ages or colours.  Just like people, horses have unique personalities and a good EAL program has a variety of them.  As part of the EAL Certification Curriculum, we teach you how to carefully evaluate horses for suitability in the program.  At a minimum however, you are looking for a horse that is of a sound mind and safe. They are tolerant and gentle horses that ideally have some life experience to draw upon.

Equine Assisted Learning is an UNREGULATED industry.  A true governing body would be an impartial third party not associated with any certification who sets an industry standard of practice.  There is currently no governing body and no general industry standards of practice.   Each school teaches their own standards of practice and some have some very specific guidelines, restrictions and requirements for maintaining your certification after graduation.  We recommend you do your research to understand what each Certification’s standards of practice are and who governs them.  Be sure to understand the requirements fully to ensure they will work for you and most importantly that they are not going to restrict your ability to run a successful business as you choose.

The reality is that in an unregulated industry anyone can put a plaque on their door and run EAL programs. Certification provides many benefits to help ensure your success.

  • Methodology
    • A credible EAL Certification will provide a strong methodology and structure to programming.  Choosing a certification with a proven curriculum ensures your clients will get the results and learning that they are looking for.
  • Credibility
    • When choosing an educational program, clients want to work with people who have invested the time and effort to learn and develop their skills in their field.  A well respected EAL Certification speaks volumes to your commitment to your programs, dedication to delivering value to clients and desire to master your craft.
  • Support
    • Running a business is challenging.   Choosing a certification that is run by experts in the field that are committed to your success ensures you are not alone in your journey.   Having a strong alumni program that connects graduates provides additional support and access to a qualified and passionate workforce that shares your dream.

There are no re-certification requirements with this program and you are not required to maintain a minimum number of hours to retain your certification.  Just like when completing a degree, once you complete the requirements of this course, you are certified for life and you will be a Dreamwinds/Cartier Alumni for life with all the graduate benefits.  You will learn how to deliver the Building Block Program and leave with a hard copy of the full exercise curriculum, tools and lifetime business support to run your programs.  Be sure to ask the question about re-certification, annual practicum hours or membership requirements when researching Certification options.

Our goal is to support your growth and ensure you have the freedom to run your programs profitably, in the way that suits you best.  We provide you with a flexible, foundational curriculum that can be used to create the programs that will work best for your clients.  We do not micro-manage how your set up your business or run your programs but are always here to help!

While we encourage all our graduates to leverage our extensive list of Certified EAL Facilitators to run their programs, we recognize that our industry is still growing and they may not be available in your area.  When I started my program, I was fortunate enough to have friends volunteer to help me run my early programs.  It allowed me to grow my business profitably and enabled me to service large teams at a time when I was the only Certified EAL Facilitator in the area.  This is critical when in your start-up phase and may be your best option.  We support you through those decisions to ensure you can manage the support staff available to you. With our growing alumni base, you will also have access to fellow facilitators who are committed to helping each other grow and ensuring you are running safe and effective programs. It is of course beneficial to have like-minded people supporting you who have the same training and understanding of the program, but it is not a requirement.

Absolutely!  We have created a flexible and customizable program for continuing education to ensure you are able to learn in the areas that are most important for you.    With the wide variety of applications for our EAL program, it would be inappropriate in our view to paint every Level 2 + facilitator with the same brush.  Our program has been developed across 3 key pillars – Self-Development, Program Development and Business Development as our experience has shown that skills and confidence in all 3 areas are the key to EAL business growth and success. Participants in our advanced programming receive points upon completion that is applied toward advanced levels of certification.  See our Advanced EAL Certification Page for more details. Programming consists of in person workshops and online courses to address the needs of our international body of graduates.